AMERICAN SAMOA COMPANY SUIT AGAINST SAMOA IN LIMBO

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By Fili Sagapolutele

PAGO PAGO, American Samoa (November 9, 2000 - PIDP/CPIS)---Private International Development Banc of American Samoa (PIDB) might not have the ability to sue the Samoa government now that their Articles of Incorporation have been revoked by Governor Tauese Sunia.

That was the message from Samoa’s State Solicitor, George Latu, in a telephone interview from Samoa’s capital of Apia.

Latu responded to questions pertaining to a proposed PIDB $1 billion lawsuit against the Samoa Government.

PIDB President William Cravens confirmed to American Samoa’s media two weeks ago that the company plans to file a suit against the Samoa government, which has seized $4 million from its Apia bank accounts.

PIDB was incorporated in American Samoa. But a week ago, Governor Tauese Sunia revoked their corporate status. PIDB was given 15 days to "wind up and resolve its affairs."

"If the company (PIDB) is no longer an active one, they might not have the ability to bring suit against the Samoa government," Latu said.

A November 1 Executive Order, signed by the governor, states that PIDB "misused its Certificate of Incorporation and the corporate entity to establish a bank account or accounts, into which were deposited funds that are the proceeds of a crime, as such was determined by The Supreme Court of Samoa" on October 6.

Therefore, the order’s reference to "crime proceeds" represents the Governor’s first acknowledgment that PIDB may not be on the up-and-up.

In the meantime, Latu confirmed a Newsline newspaper report out of Apia that a prominent member of the Samoa Parliament received about 100,000 Samoa tala (US$ 35,000) from one of the accounts seized by the Samoa government.

Latu could not say if the money came from the PIDB account or some other account suspected of holding "crime proceeds."

The Member of Parliament has not been identified.

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